“…the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.” Matthew 25:10
What is so important about marriage?
I didn’t ask, what is so important in a marriage; you can find answers to that question in plenty of good Christian Counseling materials such as The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. But, my question is, what is so important about marriage that Satan works so very hard to destroy it, or to discourage people from entering into it. Since we are supposed to live by the spirit as Followers of Jesus, what makes it so easy to be lured into a doomed relationship according to the flesh, as a distraction from its true intended and GLORIOUS purpose. As with anything Satan does, there is a reason.
What is the mystery of marriage that could make it so exciting to the Followers of Jesus?
With all of the bad things that we read about, see on TV, and sometimes experience ourselves in bad marriages, what could be so exciting about it to Followers of the Living Jesus? For even Jesus himself said, “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” (Mt 22:30). So, wouldn’t it just be easier to live that way now and save ourselves the pain of falling into a bad marriage?
No, not if we are the true Follower of the LIVING Jesus. In fact, for FOLLOWERS OF JESUS, MARRIAGE IS A WONDERFUL GIFT, it’s to be looked forward to with great anticipation that a REAL BLESSING HAS ARRIVED- He needs us to live together in a spiritually healthy marriage. More importantly, there’s an exciting joyful mystery in it if we follow the first two principles, of Loving God and Seeking His Kingdom and Righteousness. This message isn’t about a deep scriptural dive, because the answer is graciously simple and wonderful.
I’ve often said that if we live according to the Spirit and are guided by God (see the Principles), then God will bring us into a glorious relationship with someone else who is like us in the spirit and is equally on fire for Jesus WHO LIVES. Anything else isn’t going to work. But, when God brings us together, then we know that it’s right and together we seek His kingdom and righteousness, and that’s where the true joy BEGINS.
Marriage as the way to prepare for Jesus’ return
Matthew 25 gives us a picture (via a parable) of what it will be like when Jesus returns:
Mat 25:1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
Mat 25:2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
Mat 25:3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
Mat 25:4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
Mat 25:5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
Mat 25:6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
Mat 25:7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
Mat 25:8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
Mat 25:9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
Mat 25:10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
Mat 25:11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
Mat 25:12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
Mat 25:13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
In this parable, half of the virgins were foolish and half of them were wise. The half that weren’t prepared, had no knowledge (oil) of what the Bridegroom expected of them in marriage, but the other half did know how to prepare themselves for what was to be expected of them in marriage to our Lord Jesus- they had practiced. The foolish half lived as modern day religious Christians giving time to God for a few hours on Sunday mornings, and the world the rest of the week, they and won’t be prepared; they still have some light in them, but since they don’t live according to the Spirit every day (see Principle One), then they will be turned away.
True married Followers of Jesus however, equally and joyfully living according to the Spirit, live practicing today the roles expected of us as the Bride of Christ when he returns. By practice, we will be prepared. It may not seem like it to the foolish, but the wise recognize that this is a great mystery- the Bible even tells us this:
Eph 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
Eph 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
Eph 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
Eph 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Eph 5:28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
Eph 5:29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
Eph 5:30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
Eph 5:31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
Eph 5:32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. (emphasis mine)
Eph 5:33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
Be warned, Jesus said that straight (difficult) is the gate, and narrow is the path that leads to eternal life- and FEW there are that will enter into it.
“the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.” Matthew 25:10
I won’t go into this any further. I’d rather let you enjoy the journey for yourselves. How exciting could be your future together. Let me encourage you to become a Follower of Jesus who LIVES.
Pray that God will bring you into the relationship, according to the Spirit in you, with the person you are meant to be with, and that together, you will see the truth in this message and will find great joy in marriage, to prepare yourselves through practice as members of the wise virgins ready to serve our Bridegroom, the Living Jesus when he returns. I had the most fantastic opportunity myself some 30 years ago before Satan stole the gift from me. Yet, I am still devoted to my wife after all these years apart. I couldn’t have it any other way…and neither should you. Study this message and embrace the gifts that God gives you.
Together, bear much fruit and glorify God.
Bearing You Fruit
Moses assembled a Nation, not a religion. And, David established a Kingdom, not a sect.
Yet, by the time Jesus arrived, the Nation and the Kingdom were both gone. What remained had deteriorated into religion (and somewhat mixed at that) with sects, and a perverted law. Moses was raised as a Prophet to the Nation of Israel, and David was raised as to its King. Jesus came as a Prophet (Deut 18:15, Acts 3:2, John 4:19) and when he returns, he will come as the King of Kings (Acts 1:6). When Jesus came, there was nothing left that resembled the Tribe of Judah. They were Jews in name only, and their behavior was devoid of nationality. They were so blended into the world and perversion, that Jesus declared that Satan was their Father (John 8:44).
From the Scofield Bible on the period between Malachi to Matthew (pg 986):
(1)…The problem was to keep alive this exalted ideal in the midst of outward persecutions and sordid and disgraceful divisions within.
(2) The organic means to this end was the synagogue, an institution which formed no part of the biblical order of the national life. Its origin is obscure.
(3) But during this period, also, was created that mass of tradition, comment, and interpretation…so superposed upon the Law that obedience was transferred from the Law itself to the traditional interpretation.
(4) During this period also rose the two great sects know to the Gospel narratives as Pharisees and Sadducees. The Herodians were a party rather than a sect.
Amongst such a people, governed, under the suzerainty of Rome, by an Idumean usurper, rent by bitter and unspiritual religious controversies, and maintaining an elaborate religious ritual, appeared Jesus, the Son and Christ of God.
Here is some history from, The Story of Christianity by Justo Gonzalez:
Alexander the Great introduced Hellenism before Jesus’ time. Some were elements of Greek and some from other places. Some Jews adopted those, “Since part of the Hellenistic ideology consisted of equating and mixing the Gods of different nations.” pg 8
From one, there became many sects, among them was the Pharisees- party of the populace. They did not enjoy the benefits of Roman rule. They were faithful to the Law. They studied and debated how the Law should be applied in every conceivable situation. This led to the charge that they were legalistic. they held some doctrines such as the final resurrection and the existence of angels. pg 10
More conservative were the Sadducees- mostly aristocrats, conservative in policies and religion, they rejected the doctrine of the Pharisees.
The Jews were scattered among the Roman Empire. Those in the East spoke Aramaic, and those in the west spoke Greek.
Philo of Alexandria (a Hellenistic JEWISH philosopher) sought to show that the best of Pagan philosophy agreed with the Hebrew scriptures. He also tried to prove that the God of the scriptures was the same as the One of the philosophers. pg 13
The Roman Empire encouraged as much conformity as possible without unnecessary violence as possible. While it favored the spread of Christianity, “In order to achieve greater unity, the imperial policy sought religious uniformity by following two routes: religious synchronism- the indiscriminate mixing of elements from various religions, and Emporer worship.” Syncrronism (the amalgamation, or attempt of different religions, cultures, or schools of thought) was the fashion of the time. In that atmosphere, Jews and Christians were seen as unbending fanatics who insisted on the sole worship of their One God- an alien cyst that must be removed for the good of society. In this, Socrates and Plato introduced the belief of the Immortality of the Soul. pg 14
All this, many Christians found attractive and useful in their attempts to respond to charges that they were ignorant and unbelieving. Although at first these philosophical traditions were used for interpreting the faith of outsiders, eventually they began influencing the manner in which Christians understood their faith. [a falling away?] pg 16-17
In Acts 6:1 there were already divisions (Grecians (Hellenists) entering into the faith, and the Word had not yet been preached to the Gentiles). So here, there was a conflict between the Jews; those who kept the customs, and those who were open to Hellenistic teaching.
“By its ninth chapter, Acts becomes more increasingly interested in Paul, and we hear less and less of the church in Jerusalem. What was happening is that the “Hellenistic” Jewish Christians were serving as a bridge to the Gentiles, and they were joining in such numbers that they overshadowed the Jewish Christian Community.” pg 20
Their faith was not a denial of Judaism but was rather the conviction that the Messianic age had finally arrived. [NOTE: Early Christians did not see themselves as a new religion (as we do now), but were convinced that the Messiah had finally arrived.] pg 20
In the earliest Christian community, the breaking of the bread took place “with glad and generous hearts.” Acts 2:46.
Note: it’s important here to expand on that. The Believers continued in the “apostle’s doctrine.” That doctrine or belief was NOT a new sect as outsiders, including Jews under Pharisitical or Saduceedical rule thought, but instead was, “the conviction that the Messianic age had finally arrived.” Again still, Christians were Jews. The Word had not yet reached the Gentiles. However, this Spiritual nation acted differently: The Fellowship of the Believers- Act 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Act 2:43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. Act 2:44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; Act 2:45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. Act 2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Act 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
James addresses his epistle to, “the twelve tribes scattered abroad.” James 1:1
In A.D. 62, James the brother of Jesus (and leader of the church in Jerusalem) was killed by orders of the high priest. Soon thereafter, the leaders of the Christian community in Jerusalem decided to move to Pella…whose population was mostly Gentile. pg 21-22 By the second century, now that the Apostles are gone, everything begins to change, and not for the better.
Every major city began to claim Apostolic origins. The focus continues along religious lines rather than national lines.
Acts 28:20- Paul was persecuted, “because of the hope of all Israel.” Not for religion, but for a nation.
Jesus did not come to start a new religion, but as THE Prophet Moses declared, to restore the nation of Israel (12 tribes) to a right relationship with God. (John 4:19-26)
“And he called unto him the twelve and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits.”
“And they went out and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many devils and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them.”
“And the Apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus and told him all things both what they had done and what they had taught.”
“And Jesus when he came out saw much people and was moved with compassion toward them because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. And when the day was now far spent his disciples came unto him and said This is a desert place and now the time is far passed: Send them away that they may go into the country round about and into the villages and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat.”
“He answered and said unto them Give ye them to eat.“
Mark 6:7,12-13, 30, 34-37a
In an earlier post The Power of Faith we looked at the unfathomable and unfailing faith that our Heavenly Father has in His Son. Adding to that now, Mark chapter 6 is a remarkable witness to the faith Jesus has in us. In order to get the most of this account we need to remember that Jesus’ entire ministry lasted just about 3 1/2 years. If we measure time by the number of chapters in the book (16) we’re just under one year into his time with the disciples. While he had accomplished much in that time, the disciples were still just witnesses to the work of the Son of God. They haven’t done anything yet themselves.
The chapter starts with Jesus returning home to “his own country.” Immediately his authority is questioned in the synagogue- he’s just a carpenter; a local boy, Joseph and Mary’s son. As a result, verses 5-6 tell us “And he could there do no mighty work (miracles) save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk and healed them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages teaching.” (emphasis mine). The scripture doesn’t say he would there do no might work (miracles) but that he could not. All he can continue with is to provide an education of the TRUTH. So what does he do? He appoints the twelve disciples to do the work for him. This in itself is a demonstration of his extended power and authority. “And he called unto him the twelve and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power (authority) over unclean spirits;” (v7); and belief in them.
What He could not do he gave them to do. They didn’t know it at the time but this would become a taster of the work that lay ahead of them “But ye shall receive power (miraculous power) after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and in Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8). And the scripture says that they carried out the assignment as instructed. Imagine all that they had seen in a few months of watching Jesus he suddenly entrusts them. That’s quite a big ask of a few uneducated fishermen.
And as soon as they return to him he gives them a new task- feed FIVE THOUSAND people! HE BELIEVED IN THEM. So why couldn’t they step up to the job? This was something new. Something they hadn’t even seen him do before (feeding the four thousand comes in chapter 8). Let’s do some math; 5000 people divided by 12 disciples, that’s 417 each. Easy right? They’ve forgotten all the power he bestowed upon them. They’ve come back down to earth. Their measure is worldly and physical. Today we’d ask where we’re going to find the dinnerware for 5000 people let alone the food.
That night Jesus sends them away in the ships and later walks on the water to meet up with them. That’s a lot to take in in a day! They must have thought that they couldn’t take much more without their heads exploding.
And here comes the key:
“But when they saw him walking upon the sea they supposed it had been a spirit and cried out:
For they all saw him and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them and saith unto them ”Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.”
And he went up unto them into the ship and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure and wondered.
For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.” (emphasis mine) Mark 6:49-52
They considered not the miracles, for their hearts were hardened. Their focus shifted off the spiritual and back to the physical.
Doing the things they had seen Jesus do up until the time he sent them out by twos was acceptable in their spirit. But once they were given something beyond their mental comprehension their hearts were hardened. The spirit gave way to the flesh, to the worldview. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. (Galatians 5:17)
Feeding five thousand was beyond their thinking and that hardened their hearts. How sweet are the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives us? How wonderful is the opportunity to serve our Lord in the Spirit?
We are a spiritual people. And in the spirit, Jesus says “MY FAITH in you is sufficient.” In the Spirit, he says that we will do all the things he did AND MORE. But only our spirit matched with His.
God has a call for all of us. Who knows it might be that you are to feed 5000. Or it might be something you think is small and insignificant (nothing is small and insignificant with God). Whatever it is if you believe in your spirit that you can do it YOU WILL! In the Spirit, Jesus believes in you. In the spirit, I believe in you.